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UPDATED: airBaltic ownership change afoot

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said March 7 that ownership changes might be taking place at national airline airBaltic, in which the state retains an 80% stake.

As reported by LTV's Panorama news show March 6 citing unofficial information, the 20% stake of German investor Ralph-Dieter Montag-Girmes is being sold to Danish businessman Lars Thuesen for an undisclosed sum.

Montag-Girmes bought his share in the flag-carrier for around €52 million a year ago.

Speaking on LTV March 7, Kucinskis said "At the moment this is confidential information and all the nuances need to be discussed with the board members, but what I could say is that the company could be strengthened."

"We're always looking at ways to strengthen the shareholders and the possibility of changes so that the company becomes even stronger and is able to carry out its plans," Kucinskis said.

"There's no problem with the company," he said by way of reassurance, before saying once again that the company would be "strengthened".

The government is due to discuss airBaltic behind closed doors later in the day.

Montag-Girmes has not commented on the reported deal, but Thuesen attended a government meeting Tuesday and reportedly told journalists he was still considering an investment.

An individual by the name of Lars Thuesen has been involved in the past with Scandinavian airline SAS (itself a former airBaltic shareholder), and British company Airtours, and is currently on the boards of Danish charter airline Jet Time and as director of Basisbank.

According to the Danish press, Basisbank was in a perilous position in 2015 but managed to attract a large investment from private sources to allow it to continue in business.

According to his LinkedIn profile, his other interests include a robotics company in Macclesfield, England (British company records list his correspondence address near Macclesfield) and a brewery in Denmark

British company records show 1956-born Thuesen was previously linked with more than 30 other British-registered companies, though most are now dissolved. He remains a partner of Brookfield Media, a Limited Liability Partnership involved with acquiring film rights.

Lars Thuesen (sometimes mis-spelled 'Theusen' in the UK) also made headlines in the UK press by securing a huge payoff despite thousands of job losses the Airtours travel company in 2002. Thuesen was in charge of the company's German division, which The Guardian reported to have been a "debacle".

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